Barrels and Bibles: Conflict and Compromise Between Whalemen and Missionaries in the Sandwich Island, 1820-1860 [thesis]

Shawn Edge
This study analyzes the relationship between New England whalemen and American Protestant missionaries after each group traveled to the Sandwich Islands in the early nineteenth century. Arriving at virtually the same point in time, these two groups had very specific, but mutually irreconcilable goals in the islands. Whaling ships could be away from their home port for four years or more and created no shortage of weary sailors and battered gear. For whalemen, the Sandwich Islands were the
more » ... ands were the locale where they restocked with supplies and reinvigorated their men with alcohol and women. Contrary to the debauchery sought by the whalemen while ashore, missionaries worked to instill the native population with Christian values in preparation for the coming of the Millennium. In an era of benevolent societies, these missionaries found the souls of Pacific islanders as their primary target for conversion. In an attempt to shield their new followers from sin, missionaries held disdain for anyone who brought values contrary to the Bible to the islands. These conflicting goals created tension between the whalemen and missionaries that often led to violent encounters. This relationship manifested itself in a series of ways with physical and ideological conflict being the most visible. After successfully converting the Hawaiian monarchy and gaining influence over their decision-making, missionaries encouraged native government officials to enact laws barring sailors from partaking in alcohol and prostitutes. When whalemen came ashore after months at sea, they were outraged at to find that the influence of the missionaries robbed them of their long awaited time for excess and frequently rioted in protest. V project. Without the fellowship I received from them, I may not have been able to complete my research. Vl PREFACE This thesis was prepared within format set forth in the University of Rhode Island Graduate School Format Guidelines for theses and dissertations. Various chapters from this thesis have appeared as scholarship for classes taken while a graduate student and will be submitted for publication in the future. Quotations in this thesis are kept in the form of those who produced them . "Sic" is used when a quotation is grammatically incorrect to let the reader know that it is not a typographical error. Where grammar and spelling are obviously incorrect or abbreviated , the use of "sic" is not employed. This is especially true with logbook entries that reflect the poor education and limited time of sailors aboard ships. In these cases, the form of the quotation was not altered because the original reveals more about the sailors . The Hawaiian culture possessed no written language prior to the arrival of American missionaries in 1820. As missionaries applied a written language to Hawaiian, the spelling varied. When the meaning of the word is not obvious , the more accepted form of the word is placed in brackets. For instance , Honolulu could be spelled , Onoruru , Honoruru, or Onoruva. In this case, "Onoruva" will be followed by "Honolulu " in brackets. Additionally , the first time a Hawaiian language word is presented into the text, it will be placed in italics to alert the reader.
doi:10.23860/thesis-edge-shawn-2008 fatcat:b4ok4qkuzffjrd6qhqghpkih3q